Athletics over education?

Athletics over education? The Oct. 18 issue of the Star Tribune encompasses the scope of the problem big-time intercollegiate athletics has become for the University of Minnesota and the taxpayers of Minnesota. On the front page is President Bob BruininksâÄô request to the Legislature for another $141 million and a nine percent tuition hike to fund education pursuits at the University. Inside is a photo of the under-construction, needless new on-campus football stadium (costing how many taxpayer dollars?), and its wonderful sightlines. Unhappily, these sightlines seem to measure the depth and breadth of vision of Gov. Tim Pawlenty, the Regents, the University of Minnesota Alumni Association and the media sports establishment when it comes to assessing the true mission of the University: educating our young people. ItâÄôs time for the Legislature to teach the University a lesson and reject BruininksâÄô request; bad behavior must not be rewarded. The University must now make a choice between spending on sports versus spending on education. ItâÄôs also time for the Legislature to conduct a full-scale investigation of the intercollegiate sports program at the University and determine whether its rubber-stamp approval of spending on athletics at the University really benefits us taxpayers. In my view, as a University graduate (1958) and long-time taxpayer, big-time sports at the University is to education as Sid Hartman is to journalism. Clearly, we no longer can afford to continue our profligate spending on University sports while neglecting the education needs of Minnesota and Minnesotans. I said this long before the economy collapsed. Now, even further belt-tightening and even more judicious spending of our precious tax dollars on our many pressing and absolutely vital social needs in Minnesota are required. Willard B. Shapira University alumnus